Yesterday I recieved some parts I've ordered for the Land Raider, and I am so impressed with the quality, that I have to write a small review;
The parts come from The Dark Works, a small one man business run by the delightful canadian gentleman known as Peter Lindblad: The Dark Works
He started out on the Bolter and Chainsword forums, with his Black Legion project, lamenting the lack of chaos-specific parts and bits for the Rhino, Predator and Land Raider - something to make it more cool than just "another spiky rhino". Over the course of the last 4 years or so, what started out with him making amazingly tight and precise armour and trims out of plastic card, leaving the rest of us drooling over the looks, has evolved into him making a small business out of it, taking 3d modelling classes, investing in computerguided plastic cutters, and becoming a genuine savant in resin casting. Very impressive, if only for his drive and determination - seldom have I seen anyone so dedicated to his craft.
Check out his thread here - it makes for a great read, lots of tips, where he happily shares all his knowledge and it shows how much he's constantly improving his skills: Legion Rising
Anyway; When he first started offering the Chaos Land Raider trim/armour kit, I was drooling over it - finally a kit that made a Land Raider look all proper and "chaosy" - I had no use for it at the moment thought, having recently finished my Death Guard Land Raider (without trims, alas), so I put the idea on the back burner. However having recently started my Word Bearers, there was no doubt that I wanted, nay, NEEDED a set of his kit. Which brings me to my review;
Customer service/delivery: 10/10. I ordered the kit late sunday evening, and it arrived by thursday noon. Reminding you that the kit crossed the planet, flying from Canada to Denmark, Scandinavia, I don't think it can be done much faster. He also gave a very thorough response to my email with some questions, within 24 hours. Very satisfied.
Packaging: 10/10. The parts arrived safely packed in small plastic bags, inside the box, and most impressively, a personalised letter from Peter, thanking for the business. Nice touch.
Quality of parts/casting: 11/10 (Yes, these go to eleven!). This is where I just can't fathom how he does it.
1) This kit is done before he got his hands on the computer guided cutter. The master for the kit is HAND CUT from plastic card. Yes, hand cut. I've gone through it very thoroughly, and I just can't find a single line or rivet that isn't exactly where it needs to be. Intricate fine lines all around, and I am a stickler for anything crooked. Flabbergastingly good. I think of myself as pretty good with a scalpel and modelling, but this is beyond anything I think I could do.
2) The casts are practically flawless. I've managed to find a total of 1(!) air bubble in the resin in about 25 parts he sent. I've worked with a LOT of Forge World parts; I love most of their models, but sometimes I want to ragequit them because of the quality of their casts - air bubbles, misaligned molds causing extreme mold lines, and totally warped parts. Every part Peter sent was straight as an arrow. This is vastly superior to anything Forge World has ever sent me.
Anyone whos worked with resin casting, know that it isn't easy to get great casts. It's a testament to his perfectionism how good this really is.
3) Fit; Okay, lets be honest; the Land Raider kit is OLD, and in no way lives up to GWs standards today - it just doesnt fit together very good - I had to cram it together with rubber bands, and put heavy books on it while gluing it, to bend some of the parts into shape. That being said, it's all the more impressive that Peters parts fit the Land Raider like a glove - practically no modification, bar the necessary removal of a few rivets and extruding details on the Land Raider is necessary. Brilliantly thought out and executed kit.
Price: Well... It's not a cheap kit by any means. It costs 46 Canadian $ (about 37 US $) for the armour plates. While some may baulk at the price, I think it's worth it and more. I'm into modelling and wargaming because I like the illusion of small warriors battling it out - therefore, quality is a the top of my list. Could I make a Chaos Land Raider without these parts? Sure. Do I want to? Nope, not when I see how much better it makes it look.
I can't see Forge World making a similar kit at a cheaper price, and when you keep in mind that this guy has invested in a computer guided cutter, resin casting tools (vaccum chamber, etc.) and put so much time and effort into this small business, and that the quality is superior to Forge World, the kit is actually a bargain.
Overall: I heartedly recommend this kit to anyone who wants the best they can get. It's just that good. I can't imagine his other kits being any different, so I'll recommend those as well. A big tip of my hat to Peter - I don't get how you do it, but consider me a huge fan. :)
I mean, come on - just look at how crisp these parts are??? Hand cut? Yep, with the devil now owning your soul, Peter!
Apologies for the long rant, but I think this kit deserves it. :)